Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The mini-documentary does a tremendous job of capturing that tremulous English sense of "place" that suffuses Tolkien--a sense which is itself drenched with the mist and damp of grey northern skies. (The soundtrack is no small part of this.) It seems to me that Yorkshire is especially enchanted in this respect (but that's an effect of bias and my own sense of nostalgia for that place). It's also a reminder that the faith of England is much older than Anglicanism--and perhaps why the paganism of its tribal heritage was so well primed for the sacramentalism of Catholic faith.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I'm only part way through, but consider a couple of snippets. Who, for instance, can identify with this?
E-mail is addictive, it has been shown, in the same way that slot machines are addictive. You press the send/receive button just as a gambler pulls down a slot machine lever, because you know that yo will receive a reward (mail/a payout) some of the time. The best way to increase the chance of a reward is to press "Send" a lot. In one study, participants manually checked their e-mail thirty to forty times an hour.
It's true, isn't it? You just never know when you could receive that email that might change your life! And while you're waiting, clicking and clicking and watching and waiting, you're not doing anything that could change your life. (So yes, I need something like EA: "My name is Jamie Smith, and I am an email addict...")
Most compelling, though, is Freeman's diagnosis of what this does to the way we inhabit the world:
Working at the speed of e-mail is like trying to gain a topographic understanding of our daily landscape from a speeding train--and the consequences for us as workers are profound. Interrupted every thirty seconds or so, our attention spans are fractured into a thousand tiny fragments. The mind is denied the experience of deep flow, when creative ideas flourish and complicated thinking occurs. We become task-oriented, tetchy, terrible at listening as we try to keep up with the computer. The e-mail inbox turns our mental to-do list into a palimpsest--there's always something new and even more urgent reasing what we originally thought was the day's priority.
Freeman eventually counsels some practices changes of habit (e.g., don't check your email either first thing in the morning or late at night; check it twice a day; etc.). Well and good, and I'm hoping--praying like mad--that I could incorporate some of these into my own rhythms. But of course what we also need is a community that structures itself in this way, which changes its expectations about instanteous communication. We can't fight this tyranny on our own; it will require institutional change, and big ships are hard to turn.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It would be difficult to give the sort of rich reading I'd like without doling out spoilers. Suffice it to say that this is a must-see--a powerful meditation on love as forgiveness, an almost Derridean enactment of love as hospitality even to "the monster." But it is also a profound study in the ultimate nihilism of autonomy, including the autonomy of the closed family unit unhooked from a wider community of support. This is not a beautiful tragedy; it is about the beauty of love in the face of tragedy, even evil--a filmic testimony to the fact that love is stronger than death, even stronger than murder.
Friday, October 09, 2009
"The problem, very roughly put, was the following. Democracy is founded by a politeia, a constitution, where the demos, the people, exercise power, and where everyone is equal in front of the law. Such a constitution, however, is condemned to give equal place to all forms of parrhesia, even the worst. Because parrhesia is given even to the worst citizens, the overwhelming influence of bad, immoral, or ignorant speakers may lead the citizenry into tyranny, or may otherwise endanger the city. Hence parrhesia may be dangerous for democracy itself (p. 77).
Could one imagine a better description of contemporary talk radio and its effects?
From The Portal of the Mystery of Hope
By Charles Péguy
The faith that I love best, says God, is hope.
Faith doesn’t surprise me.
It’s not surprising.
I am so resplendent in my creation. . . .
That in order really not to see me these poor people would have to be blind.
Charity says God, that doesn’t surprise me.
It’s not surprising.
These poor creatures are so miserable that unless they had a heart of stone, how could they not have love for one another.
How could they not love their brothers.
How could they not take the bread from their own mouth, their daily bread, in order to give it to the unhappy children who pass by.
And my son had such love for them. . . .
But hope, says God, that is something that surprises me.
That is surprising.
That these poor children see how things are going and believe that tomorrow things will go better.
That they see how things are going today and believe that they will go better tomorrow morning.
That is surprising and it’s by far the greatest marvel of our grace.
And I’m surprised by it myself.
And my grace must indeed be an incredible force.
~trans. David L. Schindler, Jr.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I'll be giving a keynote entitled "Fearless Speech, Courageous Eyes: A Theological Engagement with Freedom of Expression" as a prelude to watching the film, Burma VJ, which documents the work of news VJs in the closed country of Burma, tackling issues of interpretation and freedom of speech/sight.
See a list of the other films being screened and discussed.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Holmes' response misses the mark, largely because he assumes that reading Miller's brief review is somehow sufficient to know what I actually say. One might have hoped that, were he so worried, he might have actually read the book. In particular, he misses the mark on two counts. First, he questions the charges I make against him. The problem is, his name nowhere appears in the book. Second, he assumes that he would not fall prey to my critique of the "lingering rationalism" in worldview approaches because he emphasizes a "perspectivalism" that recognizes the role of pre-theoretical beliefs. On this point, I should clarify that my critique does not reject "worldview" tout court. Indeed, I think some of the more historic articulations of worldview approaches are holistic in the way I'm pressing. However, as I argue in the book, emphasizing "beliefs" is not sufficient to avoid what Charles Taylor calls "intellectualism."
I appreciate David Naugle's defense--and he rightly points out that there are versions of a worldview approach that honor the sorts of concerns I articulate in Desiring the Kingdom. However, I don't share his concern about the title of Miller's review ("Putting Worldview in its Place"). I thought the pun was suggestive and appreciated that I wasn't rejecting worldview, but was trying to relativize the role of "control beliefs."